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Filipino pole vaulter Ej Obiena admitted that he made a late payment to his coach Vitaly Petrov but only because of his busy schedule and commitment as an athlete.
“Have I ever paid Vitally Petrov late? Yes, I have. I just sometimes cannot manage the workload and the training and get everything done to PATAFA’s satisfaction,” Obiena said
Obiena blasted PATAFA, Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association for giving him the task of directly paying his coach, a renowned Ukrainian pole vault mentor, despite Obiena’s hectic schedule, spending many hours in training and also him being alone in the foreign land.
“I have repeatedly asked PATAFA to pay my coaches directly and to stop requiring me to disperse all funds. First the extra work I need to do other than competing for my country, and not to mention the fees I need to shoulder for these transfers. Somehow it was refused,”
“When I am changing countries every 36 hours, I am sorry I can’t stop everything and reconcile all my finances. Do you want medals or do you want accountant-athletes? Make a choice,” said Obiena.
“They could help me by simply paying people directly. But they refuse this very simple solution for some reason and now they accuse me of wrongdoing when I never wanted the job of paymaster to begin with!”
Philippine Olympic Committee President and Cavite Rep. Bambol Tolentino were sad about the ongoing rift between Obiena and PATAFA, Tolentino said the country will lose a medal source in international competitions if the pole vaulter decides to “retire” from the sport.
“I am very disappointed. They could have handled the situation internally absent of any misfires from both parties. A bountiful career is now in peril,” said Tolentino.
Obiena is the country’s pole vault representative to the Tokyo Olympics where he finished in 11th place. Since then, he has won several medals in post-Olympic tournaments, including one on Sept. 12 where he established a new Asian pole vault record.